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A shoe is raised during a protest against the U.S. president's visit in the Shia stronghold of Sadr City in Baghdad on Monday. An Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at President George W. Bush during a news conference on Sunday. ((Karim Kadim/Associated Press))

Thousands of Iraqis protested the detention of an Iraqi journalist who was arrested after he threw his shoes at U.S. President George W. Bush during a news conference in Baghdad.

In Sadr City, thousands of supporters of radical Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr burned American flags to protest against Bush and called for the release of Muntadhar al-Zeidi.

"Bush, Bush, listen well: Two shoes on your head," the protesters chanted in unison.

In Najaf, a Shia holy city, some protesters threw their shoes at an American patrol as it passed by. Witnesses said the American troops did not respond and continued on their patrol.

Many others across the Middle East were hailing al-Zeidi as a hero for throwing his shoes, considered a sign of disrespect in some Arab nations. Newspapers across the Arab world on Monday printed front-page photos of the incident.

The station al-Zeidi works for, Al-Baghdadia, aired pleas to release the reporter.

"We have all been mobilized to work on releasing him, and all the organizations around the world are with us," said Abdel-Hameed al-Sayeh, the manager of Al-Baghdadia in Cairo, where the station is based.

Al-Zeidi is being held by Iraqi security. The Associated Press reported that he is being questioned as to whether he was paid by someone to throw his shoes and is being tested for drugs and alcohol. His shoes are being held as evidence.

During the news conference on Sunday, al-Zeidi, stood up and threw his shoes at Bush, who was able to dodge the flying footwear.

Security officials jumped on al-Zeid. As he was dragged away, he yelled, "This is your farewell kiss, you dog!"

Al-Zeidi, who is in his late 20s, was kidnapped by Shia militias on Nov. 16, 2007, and released three days later. His station said no ransom was paid and refused to discuss the case.

With files from the Associated Press